Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Is Bartlett Vulnerable?

There's been some talk over at Kujanblog about Andrew Duck, Democratic candidate for Maryland's District 6 congressional seat (Western Maryland), and his chances for beating long-time incumbent Roscoe Bartlett. The question is this - even in the midst of a Democratic wave, with a good candidate who also happens to be a veteran, can the Dems win in this district that stretches across some of the most conservative regions of the state? Here are just a few of Duck's challenges:

1. Bartlett has extraordinary name recognition in the district. Even if a Democratic wave appears in the fall, incumbency will still have power. He won his last race 67% to 29%, which is, charitably, a blow-out.

2. The district very much leans Republican. Bush won it 65% to 34% over Kerry in 2004, in a year when the extremely popular Barbara Mikulski won almost every county in the state (including Frederick and Allegheny) and pulled up Democratic turnout. The same redistricting that allowed Chris Van Hollen and Dutch Ruppersberger to win formerly Republican seats also made Bartlett's district more Republican.

3. Democratic money is spread thin. With so many competitive races in other parts of the country, blog buzz is important in fundraising. And the long-shot races that have been getting buzz are largely out west (Idaho, Wyoming, Doolittle in California, etc.). As of June 30, Bartlett had $360,000 cash on hand, which is a fair amount of cash for a relatively cheap district.

So, it's probably a slim possibility that Duck could pull this one out. But... remember that it took a series of increasingly strong Democratic challengers to Connie Morella before she lost her seat to Van Hollen, including current Maryland Democratic Party chair Terry Lierman. And the idea of building the party in traditionally Republican areas has turned some very conservative districts into real races this year, like the aforementioned races in Wyoming and Idaho, both of which voted for Bush by wider margins than did District 6. In Idaho, for example, CQ just upgraded the race given the strength of the Democratic candidate and the fact that the Republican, Bill Sali, is a right-wing bomb thrower and, according to members of his own party, a bit of a jerk. So when the planets align, anything can happen.

And remember too that Bartlett will retire at some point in the next few cycles. The Republicans have a number of potential candidates, including current AG candidate Scott Rolle, and uber-conservative State Senator Alex Mooney (if he survives his challenge from Democrat Candy Greenway). So investing in Duck is an investment in the future of the party in western Maryland. After all, without the same name recognition and incumbency that Bartlett has, Rolle, Mooney, or some other Republican could be vulnerable to a good Democratic candidate like Duck, Greenway, Sue Hecht, or another rising star. And more money means more people hearing the Democratic message.

Which means that if you have an interest in making an investment in future Democratic victories in Maryland, Andrew Duck might be a good place to start.

3 Comments:

Blogger NoWickedWitch said...

Exactly,


I grew up here and am spending the term here doing an internship in DC, and my take on it is that people in this county are not dissatisfied enough to get rid of Bartlett- they certainly don't blame him for the mess of the president. Financially most people here as in most of the counties surrounding DC are doing ok despite housing sales being at a standstill.

Duck also has a lot less money left and it would behoove anyone who wants him to have a chance to start funneling some of it his way.


Start sending that money and be sure to get a Duck poster for you lawn and a bumper sticker for your car and start chatting up your friends.

It is a long shot; there is no inherent dissatisfaction with Bartlett here.

There is however a large population of families moving up from M County and there has been over the past four years, as well as an increase in the population of young post college grads - many who are with companies which have relocated to Frederick County and some who continue to work in the metro areas but commute.

This could turn it if they indeed vote.

10/17/2006 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger andy k in MD said...

Duck is a great candidate and it would be great to see him take this seat, but chances are it won't happen this cycle. Instead we should see Duck as the beginning of a change in Western Maryland.

Just as pundits are now calling PA and VA "purple states" I think MD-06 could soon become, if it hasn't already, a "purple district". As irritating as that rhetoric can be, it does describe what is happening pretty well.

When Bartlett retires, MD-06 will be in play for both parties.

I also like to note that when Bartlett won his seat in 1992, he only won it with 54% of the vote. When its a race between two newcomers, Democrats have a definite chance.

p.s. If you are a firefox user, my blog is probably unreadable for you. Sorry, I am working on fixing this issue. With my terrible html skills, it could take a while.

10/18/2006 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger andy k in MD said...

Another update, Duck was recently endorsed by Gen. Wes Clark and WesPAC. More info here.

10/19/2006 02:47:00 PM  

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